Most people base their knowledge about exorcisms on what has been shown in Hollywood movies such as “The Exorcist” or “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”
But the reality of how exorcist’s work and how the battle with the demonic is engaged in real-life it is something very different.
The Tales of Two Exorcists
There are two very good sources of information for learning about exorcists and the work that they do.
The first is Father Gabriele Amorth (1925-2016). He was the Vatican’s Exorcist in Chief.
He performed tens of thousands of exorcisms during his 60+ years as a Catholic priest. He also taught other exorcists his techniques.
He wrote one of the absolute best and most concise books on the subject of exorcisms titled: “An Exorcist Explains the Demonic: The Antics of Satan and His Army of Fallen Angels.” A documentary about his life was produced in 2017 titled “The Devil and Father Amorth.”
The second source is Father Malachi Martin (1921-1999). He was also a Vatican exorcist, as well as a prolific New York Times best-selling author.
His 1976 book “Hostage to The Devil” (updated in 1992) recounts five separate cases of demonic possession in order to demonstrate the differing types of possession that occur.
What is an Exorcism?
In simple terms – an exorcism is a battle of wills. It is a confrontation between the will of the exorcist working under the authority of Jesus Christ versus that of the demonic spirit.
While there is a standard text, referred to as the Rite of Exorcism, which contains Bible verses used for exorcism, the power doesn’t reside necessarily in any particular verse.
The power resides in the authority of Christ as executed by the exorcist. We will cover this in a moment.
Can Anyone be Possessed?
According to both exorcists mentioned above, while we do not know exactly why some people are possessed and others aren’t, experience has shown that dedicated followers of Christ are very unlikely to become possessed.
People who become possessed have usually done something that invited the demon in. Possession is not something that happens spontaneously.
It is usually a long process that has occurred over a long period of time, even years, where a person has offered up parts of their will.
Another source of possession can be involvement in occult practices such as channeling, Ouija boards, astral projection, satanic or occult rituals, meditation and the like.
This opens a doorway for the invading spirit to enter. But again, possession afterward is a long process of surrendering one’s will. The afflicted continually takes suggestions from the entity until one day, they surrender entirely to the demonic spirit’s will.
There are those skeptics who believe that possession doesn’t exist in the afflicted person simply has schizophrenia or some other mental condition. However, modern exorcists always utilize the services of psychiatrists and medical doctors before taking the route of an exorcism to resolve the problem in the afflicted.
They also tend to utilize atheist medical professionals to prevent any bias.
It is in the lack of success or diagnosis from these other routes that an exorcism is undertaken.
Exorcism is About the Authority of Jesus Christ
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
– Matthew 28:18
There is something very vital during an exorcism that the exorcist must never lose sight of. The exorcist is always acting under the authority of Jesus Christ.
The exorcist must never use the word “I” when commanding the demon. That makes it fatal, and a mistake that could cost the exorcist his life.
As human beings, we have no authority. All authority comes from Christ.
As humans, we do have authority given us by Christ. However, when using that authority, we must always exercise it in Christ’s name.
However, in exorcisms, such authority comes through Jesus Christ and the power of the church.
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”
The authority of the church is also important. Remember that Jesus said wherever there are two or more gathered in his name, he is there.
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
– Matthew 18:20
Therefore, we can conclude that an exorcism isn’t a “do-it-yourself” proposition that one can do on their own.
It is something that must be left to trained professionals, studied servants of God, who have the authority of the church behind them.
An Exorcism has Six Stages.
According to Malachi Martin, in his book “Hostage to The Devil,” an exorcism goes through six separate stages.
In this first stage, a certain moment will occur when everyone in the room is aware of the presence. Something alien is in the room – nonhuman.
At that point, everyone present knows the subject is truly possessed. It’s unmistakable.
During this second stage, the exorcist must get the spirit to reveal itself openly as an entity that is separate from the possessed.
It is called the pretense because the demon will try to act under the pretense that it isn’t there, that the possessed simply has multiple personalities.
At this stage, the demon tries to confuse all in the room. It tries to alter their senses, make them taste colors, feel sounds, create distortion and bewilderment.
During this stage, the demon no longer uses the voice of the possessed, that is, no longer speaks through the afflicted person.
Now, the entity speaks with its own monstrous, evil alien voice that can sound like a million roaring lions at once. It is a voice that can be felt in your very core, going beyond your sense of hearing.
It is used to create a distraction. The exorcist must silence this voice, bringing it under control and under the authority of Jesus Christ.
This is the stage where the fiercest battle occurs. The exorcist must initiate this fight.
It is the will of the exorcist versus that of the demonic spirit. This is the stage of the exorcism that can last the longest.
It can go on for hours, days or even weeks.
In this last stage, the expulsion is when the exorcist drives the demon out. To succeed, under the authority of Jesus Christ, the exorcist will have avoided every trap the demon has set for him.
The exorcist has stood as a witness for Jesus, and by steadfast faith, has commanded the unclean spirit to depart.